DETROIT — The ebb and flow of major league baseball seemed to dictate that Sunday should have belonged to the A's.
After two lopsided losses to the Detroit Tigers, they were due for one good showing in Motown before clearing the slate and moving on to Tampa Bay.
But a promising day quickly turned sour after the A's let a 6-0 lead melt away in an 11-7 defeat at Comerica Park, capping a three-game sweep by the Tigers.
Some defeats sting more than others over 162 games, and Sunday's surely will rank as one of the most disheartening for Oakland.
"Our offense had kind of been struggling," first baseman Bobby Crosby said. "You get out to a 6-0 lead, everyone is feeling pretty good and swinging the bats well. It's a tough one. "... But we can't worry about it too long. We've still got four games to go (on this road trip) in Tampa. "
The A's, after being silenced with the bats Friday and Saturday, scored five runs in the top of the first and chased Detroit starter Armando Galarraga after two-thirds of an inning.
But A's right-hander Trevor Cahill, spotted a 6-0 lead after 1½ innings, couldn't handle the prosperity. The Tigers got four of the runs back in the second — keyed by two-out RBI triples from Ramon Santiago and Josh Anderson.
Cahill couldn't keep his bread-and-butter sinker down in the zone, and Detroit's dangerous lineup made him pay. He was pulled with one out in the third and runners on the corners, after Gerald Laird's bloop RBI single made it 6-5.
Enter Santiago Casilla, who threw just one pitch before allowing Santiago's three-run homer that put the A's behind 8-6.
Casilla, making his second appearance after being reinstated from the disabled list, had retired his first batter faced in all 10 of his previous appearances.
It got worse for the A's normally reliable bullpen in the bottom of the fifth. After Orlando Cabrera's homer cut Detroit's lead to 8-7 in the top of the inning, Russ Springer relieved Casilla and also gave up a three-run homer on his second pitch, a shot to right by Curtis Granderson that was a backbreaker.
"Today just wasn't their day," A's manager Bob Geren said of his bullpen. "All losses are disappointing, but when you do have a big lead, it magnifies it for sure."
Given that, Geren gave a quick talk to his players after the game about keeping their heads up. The A's are 13-21, last in the American League West and 81/2 games behind first-place Texas.
Cahill (2-3) was handed terrific run support in his previous two starts and took advantage of it. But Geren said learning how to handle a big lead, particularly in the early innings, is a skill young pitchers have to develop.
"You've got to learn to pitch when you're down, to eat innings up, and you have to pitch when you you're ahead to minimize the damage," Geren said.
Cahill was upset he couldn't take advantage of such a cushion.
"I should at least be able to go five," he said. "It makes it harder when we're (struggling). I felt like I let the team down. They came ready to play today."
Adam Kennedy's solo homer down the right-field line got things rolling for the A's in the first. Landon Powell, starting at catcher with Kurt Suzuki getting a day off, added a three-run double in the five-run rally.
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By the numbers
How the A's and Tigers offenses stacked up this weekend:
34 Runs 9
40 Hits 23
.354 BATTING AVG. .225
A'S ERA: 10.50